1. bookVolume 21 (2021): Issue 1 (June 2021)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2067-5712
First Published
30 Aug 2019
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Dorothy Wordsworth's Food-Mediated “History of the Personal” in The Grasmere Journal

Published Online: 21 Jan 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 21 (2021) - Issue 1 (June 2021)
Page range: 27 - 42
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2067-5712
First Published
30 Aug 2019
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

Food practices (preparation and consumption) have long been viewed as mere domestic routines, and thus, often dismissed for being too “frivolous [a] realm” to receive the same scholarly attention as “great topics” such as “politics, economics, justice and power” (Shapiro 2). Emerging during the 1970s, food studies owe their theoretical model to research in fields of enquiry such as anthropology, sociology, structuralism, or women's studies, which have highlighted the aesthetic value of food and its transformative implications for the intermediation of social relations with others. Accordingly, food occasions various socio-cognitive activities that help an individual achieve a sense of attachment and belonging to a community.

Based on the premise that food is instrumental in social relations, as well as in expressing a wide range of values, experiences and emotions, the present analysis gives an insight into the epistemic potential of food to attribute new meanings to Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere memoir. Laura Shapiro's non-fictional account, What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food that Tells their Stories

Laura Shapiro's What She Ate consists of the biographies of six notable female figures from different centuries and continents and highlights the importance of food in making them “recognizable” throughout history (7). Shapiro's collection of these women's personal stories and struggles gives insight into the more subtle meanings of food and its capacity to restore the balance of power between genders. In each story, food shapes the character's mind and body through evocations of endurance, resilience, internalized oppression, political statement or trendsetting dietary habits.

serves as a useful starting point for the present reading of Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal as food narrative that has family relations, daily experiences and emotions constantly mediated through food.

In brief, The Journal represents an intimate record of Dorothy's life, household activities and personal observations of the (natural and social) world surrounding Dove Cottage, which she shared with her famous sibling, Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, between May 1800 and January 1803.

In this sense, I propose a constructivist-relational approach to Dorothy's narrative as interconnected with food, with the primary aim to explore how her numerous food references in the Journal contribute to the construction of her personal narrative and identity. As posited here, The Grasmere Journal offers a glimpse of Dorothy and William Wordsworth's dietary, social and writing routines, but also projects an image of Dorothy in a position of power, a woman ahead of her time, with a progressive stance, which goes beyond the societal expectations with regard to women's domestic role during the Romantic period.

Keywords

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